Entries in Best Actor (111)
Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's David on Tom Hardy in Locke.
You hear Tom Hardy’s Ivan Locke before you see his face. Hardy has spoken about the mistaken origins of his attempt at a Richard Burton-esque Welsh brogue, but the dialect is the least important aspect of how the choice functions in acting. Locke’s accent makes his voice measured and plaintive, remaining a calmly placating force across his telephone conversations as he journeys across the British Isles one fateful night.
Steven Knight’s surprisingly tense script sets the groundwork for the surprising tension of Locke, but it’s Hardy’s performance that creates the compelling emotional drama out of events as mundane as a concrete pour. Any singular character piece like this inevitably relies heavily on its sole performer, and Hardy proves himself both actor and star, contorting his charisma so that Locke’s passion for his abandoned job and his complex dedication to both his wife and the other woman he is travelling to see are clear just by the way Hardy’s eyes shine.
Knight’s chamber play doesn’t even allow Hardy the luxury of standing up once he enters the car at the beginning, limiting the actor even further. It’s a remarkable acting challenge, but the emotional delicacy Hardy is able to develop from just his voice, face and hands is an incredibly graceful experience. Locke is a character defined through his relationships to the people on the end of the phone (and a ghost in the backseat), and the way Hardy softly modulates his voice across the course of seismic emotional shifts creates an intimacy that Knight’s script might otherwise have precluded through its decisive audio choreography. Simply watching the contours of his face and how different they have become by the film’s end is more compelling than the majority of films released this year.
Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, THE IMITATION GAME.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
Born: Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was born 19 July 1976 in London, England
The Role: Norwegian film director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) makes his English-language film debut with this film starring Cumberbatch as real-life British mathematician Alan Turing, who during WWII was in charge of a team that cracked Germany's Enigma code, thus making it able for the Allies to win the war. The film jumps back and forth between three periods in Turing's life, primarily focusing on his work during the war, his early days as a lonely youth in boarding school, and his post-war conviction for gross indecency after admitting to his homosexuality.
The film had been in development for a few years since Graham Moore's script topping the annual Black List in 2011. At one point Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to star and directors such as Ron Howard and David Yates had shown interest before eventually landing with Tyldum and Cumberbatch.
Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, Bennett Miller's chilling FOXCATCHER, which won him Best Director at Cannes.
Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz in Foxcatcher
Born: Channing Matthew Tatum was born April 26, 1980 in Cullman, Alabama
The Role: Bennett Miller, the Academy Award nominated director of Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011), takes on another film based on a true story. Tatum stars as wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz as he struggles to get by (surviving on ramen and taking $20 inspirational speech gigs) and to ultimately step out of the shadow of his older brother, fellow wrestler and gold medalist, Dave Schultz (Best Supporting Actor contender, Mark Ruffalo). Mark is soon contacted by an eccentric billionaire (Steve Carell playing John du Pont) that encourages Mark (and eventually Dave) to come to his estate near Valley Forge, named Foxcatcher, to train the athletes on his compound.
Tatum met with Miller years before the project got off the ground, but initially passed on the role then fearing he wasn't yet ready to tackle the dark places the character goes. Once the film was set to go into production, Tatum was ready for the challenge, transforming himself physically (he gained 20 pounds of muscle and trained as a wrestler) and emotionally (Tatum was so intense in one scene where Mark smashes his head in a mirror that he actually cut his own head and put a hole in the wall).
If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.
Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?
Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]
It would be disingenuous to claim that Jake Gyllenhaal is unrecognizable in Nightcrawler. It's hard not to commit Gyllenhaal to memory once you've seen him. But it would be true to say that he is less recognizable in Nightcrawler. The effect is not unlike the rubberneck squinting at the new Renée Zellweger, trying to place the differences that unsettle you.
The actor dropped 30 lbs to play his new character and lived on the night shift to prepare and it wasn't for the strenuously faux-noble reason of biographic fidelity. It must be method madness that led him to burrow into this altogether terrific star turn as Lou Bloom, a gaunt sleepless thief turned "journalist". The big difference with this Gyllenhaal is in the eyes. Those big impossibly romantic orbs have lost all their soft blueness. They're suddenly bulging from their skull, like they want to escape it. Or like they're planning to hypnotize you while the mouth delivers its mechanical sales pitch.
And with Lou Bloom, the sales pitch never stops. The night owl approaches each conversation like it's a job interview, checking off catchphrases and talking points from his mental checklist. This is all well and good for the film's first reel when Lou is trying to find a job. But when he chances upon an accident one night and sees nightcrawling freelancers filming it, the search is over; he makes it his mission to join this profession. It's here where his can-do "I'm a hard worker" salesmanship begins to ferment and spook. [More...]